The Greater Trail Hospice Society is encouraging locals of all ages to talk openly to their families about what they would want, and what they definitely would not want, if they were stricken with a serious illness or sudden injury and couldn’t speak up for themselves.
This year, National Advance Care Planning Day (ACP) falls on Saturday, April 16 with the theme: “Life happens … Be Ready.”
The aim of the nonprofit ACP is to strike up hypothetical conversations around dinner tables so that partners, children and parents know the kind of treatment or care they should consent to if the ability to communicate those wishes was removed.
“If you don’t tell others what matters most to you in those ‘worst-case’ scenarios, then how will they know? Who is going to be the captain of your ship if everything suddenly hits the fan? Get it out in the open so your family can best represent you and your wishes if you don’t have the capacity to do so yourself,” says Margaret MacDiarmid, Greater Trail Hospice vice chair.
She will be spearheading the society’s efforts to offer ACP sessions to any individuals, seniors’ organizations and service clubs who want it.
“It’s a conversation that young people, as well as older ones should initiate,” MacDiarmid explains. “When it comes to those difficult decisions about CPR, resuscitation, feeding tubes, and quality of life — most of us wouldn’t be sure about what our children, siblings or parents would actually want for themselves unless we’d already had that discussion. We just don’t talk about it and that’s what we’re trying to make people aware of.”
According to a 2020 public poll commissioned by the BC Centre for Palliative Care, 76 per cent of British Columbians agree it is important to talk about what matters for their future health. However, only 33 per cent have heard of advance care planning, only 48 per cent have had a conversation with family, only 14 per cent have had a conversation with a health care provider and only 28 per cent have documented or recorded their health care wishes.
“Our hospice society wants to normalize these types of conversations and vocalize this stuff because none of us are mind readers,” says Brenda Hooper, the society’s board chair.
“It’s all about what you want and not what others might like for you, or think you might like. It’s a scary thought, I know, but ever so important.”
Hooper, a retired community nurse first started coordinating hospice work in Rossland, Trail and beyond when it started in 1987.
“You might want to spend your final days at home surrounded by family, you might want someone to come and brush your hair everyday if you got dementia, or you might not want visitors to wear perfume,” Hooper said. “It could be anything. Take away any ambiguity for your family, start talking and if you need to formalize and record your plan, we can help with that too.”
To find out more about how the Greater Trail Hospice can help with advance care planning for free, visit their website; trailhospice.org, call 250.364.6204, or e-mail: email@example.com.